There have been significant advancements in social collaboration tools that are used in the workplace. Tools to communicate and collaborate across platforms and departments are more sophisticated than ever and, as a 2017 McKinsey Global Institute Survey suggests, this new generation of social technologies "is beginning to transform the way people communicate and work with each other."
Social collaboration tools often include features similar to social media (chat rooms, the ability to share status updates), while remaining private to the company and subject to its security controls. Users can instant message, talk by video, share files, and perform other collaborative functions within a limited internal network.
HR teams are uniquely positioned to make the case for social collaboration tools within an organization. Here are some key examples of how using these resources can enhance the capabilities of your workforce to achieve greater collaboration and productivity.
Social collaboration tools' strong resemblance to social media increases the chances that most employees will understand how to use the resource to connect with one another, much as they do on Facebook and Twitter.
Use social collaboration to facilitate an agile workplace. The concept of work is changing to incorporate the efforts of remote workers, cross-functional teams, and independent contractors. Such teams and individuals may be far apart geographically, but they still need to communicate and collaborate in real time. The use of message-based platforms can help connect workers across locations, generate new ideas, and meet project deadlines.
In this way, companies capture the benefits of deeper connectivity, thus improving both productivity and employee engagement.
Make the onboarding experience more effective and memorable. If your organization's onboarding efforts are falling short, collaboration tools might be one solution. New hires, for example, absorb information at different speeds, so placing them in a group setting might not achieve the desired goals. Instead, the social onboarding process can offer an employee the opportunity to independently review and study important company materials at their own pace.
These tools can also facilitate a smoother, more accelerated process of having new employee documents reviewed, signed, and returned to HR. Additionally, giving new hires easy access to information about organizational reporting and their co-workers' job descriptions means they can hit the ground running (and know where to find the answers they need in an efficient manner).
Enable employees to share and update HR documentation. In many companies, HR is responsible for ensuring employees regularly update their records and document any changes in status. A social collaboration tool that enables employees to update the records themselves – as well as to review key HR policy changes and other company-wide announcements – can free HR professionals to focus on more strategic aspects of the business.
Improve internal connectivity. Many businesses are plagued with some version of departmental silos. People naturally tend to stay within their own units, often missing out on valuable contact with other departments and employees. As the name suggests, social collaboration is centered around the notion of connectivity.
As noted, its strong resemblance to social media increases the chances that most employees will understand how to use the resource to connect with one another, much as they do on Facebook and Twitter. Exchanging files, making revisions, and obtaining approvals can move much faster than any previous form of interdepartmental collaboration.
The same tools can be used by senior executives when seeking to announce new initiatives, invite employees to participate in workplace discussions, and share content designed for the company's social media platforms. All of these efforts can help people understand the value of ongoing communication to speed achievement of a desired end-result.
As the McKinsey Global Institute Survey notes, this approach to collaboration can "enable organizational change, [but] not fundamentally change the way organizations work on their own." Each company must determine for itself what kind of broader, holistic changes they want to make, and then choose the best social collaboration tools to meet these goals.